Leave no trace with these hiking tips
New Leave No Trace Care for Colorado Principles aim to inspire visitors to travel like locals
As the snow melts and the trails dry out, many people are excited to hike around and get closer to nature’s display of flora and fauna. Although hiking seems pretty simple, the Colorado Tourism Office and the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics wants to make sure that everyone is enjoying the outdoors while also following a set of principles aimed at guiding travelers to show care for the state’s water, land and wildlife while helping protect special Colorado places.
The goal of the Leave No Trace Seven Principles is to encourage the state’s 82 million visitors to be active stewards of Colorado’s precious natural resources and cultural artifacts. Locally, Walking Mountains Science Center promotes the Leave No Trace Seven Principles on all their hikes as a way to teach newcomers and remind experienced hikers what is appropriate out on the trail.
Here’s a look at the seven principles:
1. Know Before You Go
- Our state and federal agencies manage 42 percent of Colorado’s majestic landscape. Learn about and respect the spaces we all own and share.
- Find your way to less-visited and off-peak destinations to minimize down time and maximize your connection with special places.
- Bring along reusable water bottles to limit waste and stay hydrated.
2. Stick To Trails
- With 39,000 marked trails and 13,000 designated campsites, there’s no need to venture beyond. By sticking to these areas and camping at least 200 feet from lakes, rivers and streams, you’re helping natural areas stay natural.
- Please don’t take shortcuts. Stay on designated paths.
3. Trash the Trash
- Pack it in, pack it out. Put litter, even crumbs, peels and cores in your nearest waste/recycling bin, and if there aren’t any nearby, hang onto it until you see one, which might not be until you’ve completed your hike.
- Wash yourself, your dog, etc., at least 200 feet from waterways, and use biodegradable soap to protect aquatic life.
4. Leave It As You Find It
- Leave plants, rocks and historical items as you find them so others experience the joy of discovery.
- Any of our 750 different species of wildflowers will live forever in a photo. Please do not pick the flowers.
- Colorado is beautiful all on its own. Building structures or campsites on public land isn’t cool. Keep it pristine for everyone to enjoy.
- Treat all living things with respect. Carving or hacking plants and trees may kill or disfigure them.
5. Be Careful With Fire
- Keep campfires small and manageable to avoid sparking wildfires.
- When putting out a fire, water it until you can handle the embers. Never let a fire burn unattended.
- Use care when smoking. Always put cigarettes out completely, and don’t leave your butts behind.
6. Keep Wildlife Wild
- Colorado is home to tens of thousands of furry, scaly and feathered creatures. To keep them – and you – safe, don’t approach them.
- Please do not feed wild animals. You could alter natural behaviors, exposing them to predators or even possible euthanasia.
- Keep your furry buddies leashed when enjoying dog-friendly trails, and pack out their waste, all the way to a trashcan.
7. Share Our Trails and Parks
- Chances are you’re not out in nature to people watch, so try out the lesser-known paths and sites.
- Silence your cell phone before stepping into nature, and speak softly without using the speaker function.
- Be considerate when passing others on the trails and yield to the uphill hiker and biker – they need the momentum.
- Listen to nature. Keep your voice and music soft so all can enjoy the peace of Colorado.